Gaining access to your property is necessary to conduct periodic inspections and repairs. But where do you stand if you wish to gain access for property viewings?
Often, you will wish to show around a prospective tenant when your current tenant is in occupation. You may even be selling up with a tenant in situ, in which case the buyer will want to view the property.
However, the tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment of a property. Under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, a landlord may be guilty of harassment if they interfere with their tenants’ quiet enjoyment.
This creates a conflict in the case of access for discharging repairing obligations. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 gives a landlord with an implied ‘repairing covenant’ the right to inspect their property at reasonable times and with 24 hours’ written notice.
The tenant has the right to refuse entry, but they’ll be in violation of their tenancy agreement if they do so. Being civilised and reaching a compromise is the answer.
Gaining access for property viewings
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 does not extend to access for viewings. So in the case of property viewing, landlords and tenants do not enjoy equal rights in the eyes of the law. Even with written notice given 24 hours in advance of a viewing, a tenant can refuse entry to the property without violating any implied laws.
The assured shorthold tenancy agreement available in our landlord downloads section contains the following clause:
Provided the Landlord has given the Tenant at least 24 hours’ prior notice in writing, the Tenant must give the Landlord (or any person acting on behalf of the Landlord) access to the Property at reasonable times of day in the following circumstances for the purposes specified:
- where the Tenant has given notice under [the Tenant’s rolling three-month break clause], to show prospective tenants or purchasers, letting agents or estate agents around the Property, but only during the last three months of the Tenancy;
- where the Landlord has served a notice on the Tenant … stating his intention to sell the property, to show estate agents or prospective purchasers around the Property; and
- during the last month of the Tenancy, for any of the purposes mentioned in paragraph (a) above.
If your contract includes a similar clause, your tenant will be in breach of their contract if they refuse you entry to conduct a property viewing. But if you enter unpermitted, you may still be guilty of harassment. You must also enter at a reasonable time, and in the case of the above clause, only during the specified periods.
What is the answer?
As always, it is best to communicate with your tenant and appeal to their sense of reason. Your tenant might not want prospective occupants looking around their home, especially if they’re in the middle of moving out. But your business will suffer if you aren’t able to let the property as soon as they have left.
One option is to let the tenants conduct initial viewings themselves. This allows them to show people around on their own terms and avoid incursions into their private space.
This does of course mean that you won’t be able to meet the prospective tenants or buyers yourself. But once a few have expressed interest, you can conduct a second round of property viewings once the flat is vacant. You’ll still let the property sooner, and you avoid having intruded upon your old tenants.